NATION

Fiji President Tells Of Battalion’s Proud History

The role was previously held by Brigadier-General and Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. In his address, President Konrote gave a brief history lesson to young members of the RFMF.
19 Aug 2020 09:38
Fiji President Tells Of Battalion’s Proud History
President Jioji Konrote during the ceremony on August 17, 2020, at the State House in Suva. Photo: DEPTFO News

The inauguration of President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote as Honorary Colonel 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment was expected.

His seniority and peacekeeping experience befits the role.

Within the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment is its deployable battalion, most recently in Middle East peacekeeping.

President Konrote’s first senior military appointment was as Company Commander, (C Company) in 1978. He was posted to the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, (1FIR) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

His subsequent service under the blue helmet included winning the Military Cross for gallantry, commanding the battalion and eventually force commander.

On Monday, President Konrote was accorded a 100-person Guard of Honour. He was also accorded a traditional ceremony, led by the Commander of the RFMF, Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.

President Konrote said he had big shoes to fill as the Honorary Colonel 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment. The role was previously held by Brigadier-General and Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Last month, Ratu Epeli was bestowed the position of Colonel of the Regiment with the RFMF. He took over the reins from the late Colonel Paul Manueli.

Senior officers from Fiji’s disciplined forces are pictured here with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, President Jioji Konrote and Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Photo: DEPTFO News

Senior officers from Fiji’s disciplined forces are pictured here with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, President Jioji Konrote and Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Photo: DEPTFO News

History lesson

In his address, President Konrote gave a brief history lesson to young members of the RFMF.

“I want to take us back to the early beginnings of our nation – from the Armed Native Constabulary during the pre-colonial era right through-out the colonial era, to the formation of the Fiji Infantry Regiment – the post-colonial era.

“It was after the First World War; an armed force was formed for the defence and the security of our nation. In those days, leading up to our participation in the second World War, the Fiji Infantry Regiment has a proud, colourful and enviable reputation. And because of the prowess of our forefathers who served in the fields in Europe during the World War 1 coming up to the World War 2 – the regiment was affiliated to the Kings Royal rifle Core or the British Army.

“The mobilisation of the 1st and 3rd battalions for the operations in the Solomons during World War 2 – for those of us who are familiar of the history of deployment – we made a mark for ourselves. We were branded as good jungle fighters and I think the result of that of which we are all proud of then until today.”

This was the award of the highest decoration of valour – the Victoria Cross to the late Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu. His sacrifice saved the lives of his men.

President Konrote called on the men and women of the officer core of RFMF to be mindful of their proud tradition. He highlighted some of RFMF’s past traditional leaders and military Commanders.

  • Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, served with distinction in the French Foreign Legion and was one of the early Commanders in the formation of the RFMF;
  • Ratu Sir George Cakobau (Turaga Vunivalu sa bale);
  • Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau; and
  • Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the Commanding officer of the 1st Battalion who brought the Battalion back from the Malaya campaign in 1956.

President Konrote said the RFMF infantry regiment had made a mark, a name for itself for being deployed in some of the most volatile and dangerous war zones in the world.

“We have a legacy to uphold and keep. It is incumbent upon us to protect a proud, enviable reputation of the Fiji Infantry Regiment,” he said.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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